Album Review: Year Of No Light - Consolamentum
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
French post-metal scientists, Year of No Light, return with that most rare of beasts: a new studio album. The release of Consolamentum comes a mere eight years after their last outing and sees the band in rude, albeit somewhat insane, health.
A celebration of the instrumental sextet’s twentieth anniversary this, their fourth record, is a study in layered guitars, momentous drum and devastating riffs. And, although rarely understated, Consolament is quite often playfully subtle.
Four out of the five composition on the album are over ten-minutes in length, with only Aletheia failing to reach the eight-minute mark. That said, there’s no point in thinking Year of No Light are giving you any remission as the gentle guitar introduction might lead you to believe. The riff is repetitive and builds with each pass like a storm growing out at sea, gaining in tempo and volume as it nears, only to become a raging tempest of crashing cymbals and rumbling bass as it makes landfall, overwhelming you in a wall of noise.
For the first three minutes of Consolamentum’s opening track, Objuration, there is nothing but a sustained, earth-shaking drone. Deliberately formed to resonate a Lovecraftian evil, it evokes the sense that all is not well out in the void, a theme that weaves itself through much of the rest of the album. The drone breaks with the screams of a synth and drums, fleshing out the sound and providing a structure.
Here, as elsewhere, the music is made from huge, heavy riffs, constructing sprawling compositions through towering guitars to give a densely lush tone. Moving effortlessly from post metal to drone to slow, pondering doom without every losing the momentum of the record is an achievement in itself, but to manage it in such a massive, cinemascopic manner is a testament to the twisted genius on show here.
Clearly, Year of No Light know how to wring the most out of a riff, but they are also more than adept at blending in hypnotic and discordant rhythm patters, to use the synths to great effect, particularly on the closing track, Came, which feels like an anachronism and, somehow, a little bit Eighties.
Interdit aux Vivants, aux Morts et aux Chiens and Realgar sit central to the album and, although different tracks entirely, contain conjoining themes and motifs. Whereas both are built around massively destructive riffs, the former is a slow, almost haemorrhage inducing doom plod, while the latter’s is an epic, post rock progression. Hidden amid Realgar’s weight can be found playful musical moments, bashfully incognito but their presence is assured.
Interdit aux Vivants… hold something transcendental in its symphony of chaos and both it and Realgar have an uplifting aura about them, something unremittingly cosmic, as though the universe were singing back to you.
Consolament is an intensely heavy, yet subtle record that has the power to elevate you while simultaneously pulling you into a slough of despond. Such is the genius at work in Year of No Light and their appearance at November’s Damnation Festival cannot come soon enough